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Minimally Viable Nerding: Nerds, You Can Figure It Out!

The purpose of this article is to offer encouragement for you to take a hot second away from Netflix to get creative. How? With a few tips to show you that everything is figureoutable.

The material comes from the book Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. I wasn’t familiar with the book nor the author, but a friend wrote his insights gleaned from the book on the back of a napkin for me and I think they offer some powerful and timely encouragement for nerds. 

We find ourselves in unprecedented times. We can choose to either wilt away and distract ourselves with Netflix and video games or we can tinker and play creatively around the house in ways we had perhaps never even considered or planned for.

If you want to try a new way to nerd, keep the following things in mind: 

1. Take small steps. 

We’re stir crazy. yet we are largely confined to the tools and materials we currently have on hand. For example, my challenge was I wanted to do some solo board gaming, but I didn’t have gaming table space available where I could leave something set up. The dining table wouldn’t work, nor would most other horizontal surfaces because they are being used as makeshift “home offices” as my kids now do online learning.

Figuring out an out-of-the-way gaming table required me to take small steps. 

Little goals are better than bigger ones in this season. Writing “Take Over the World, Pinky” on the top of our day’s to-do list feels overwhelming and unachievable. So, break that goal down into several smaller goals, each of which is easily solvable, yet add up to a much greater whole. Your small goal for today might simply be to scrounge a large piece of heavy cardboard to use as a makeshift table top.  

I know this seems obvious but us nerds struggle with this all the time. We see a large project ahead of us and become overwhelmed by it. Rather than pause to think about the whole as a series of much smaller, achievable goals, we instead become anxious which leads to procrastination and distractability. 

2. Achieve a Minimally Viable Product. 

I didn’t build my always gaming table for the future. I slapped together something usable for right now. It’s minimal, but it’s viable.

“Minimally Viable Product” or MVP is a term sometimes used around prototyping or getting a quick test or market or whatever. That’s a good mindset for us nerds.

In my example, I simply used the materials on hand to whip up a gaming table that would serve me right now in this moment. I didn’t get too precious about it, hung up on it, or allow myself to procrastinate. What was the comedian who used to say “Get ‘er done?” It’s like that.

3. Harness the power of positive quitting. 

Here’s the funny thing: Even with the quarantine, I’m still busy! Well, I have to strategically say ‘no’ to things in order to be able to say ‘yes’ to the more important things. 

The truth is we lie to ourselves about the time we have. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the typical American spends about 5 hours and 15 minutes each day in leisure activities. Retirees, kids, and those in their 20s spend a bit more on leisure, while 46-year-olds like me a little less, as we’re chasing kids.

The biggest use of that leisure time is watching TV. And numbers are showing that the pandemic is increasing that time spent watching TV. While the data shows that Americans spend a measly 20 minutes a day, total, on any kind of religious, civic, or volunteer activity, the point here is not to scold anyone.

The point is simply that to redirect even 20 minutes of our Netflix time toward some sort of creative endeavor is significant. Quitting when Netflix starts queuing up that next episode could be a positive and powerful thing.

4. What is my next right move?

Well, if we’re quitting things to reframe our mindset toward creativity, what then shall we work on? Well, that can paralyze us with options, eh? 

Good news, a key encouragement from Everything is Figureoutable is that you don’t need to plot your every move for every endeavor for every day. Sometimes it’s important to remember you only need to make your next right move. 

Rather than procrastinate or allow indecision to paralyze you, think about a few positive and meaningful opportunities that are right in front of you. Then make one of those moves. We’re all figuring this out step by step, a day at a time. So don’t hesitate to take today’s step. Those next right moves represent the first leg of your journey toward moving forward to a new day.

My next right move was to slap together a make-shift gaming table. What’s yours?

5. Expect and embrace self doubt.

We’re all sailing together in uncharted waters. It’s to be expected that each of us will doubt our creativity in these times. After all, we cultivated skills for one way, yet it is now another. You may need every once of creativity at your job that has shifted, so Netflix is all the brain energy you have left. Remember that you aren’t alone in this. And those tired feelings you have are understandable. 

But embrace those doubts about our abilities right now. This is a time to remember that we are all in this together, so let’s lean on each other. Let’s encourage one another generously and let’s share with one another generously. Let’s embrace the fact that we are all experiencing moments of self doubt in these moments.

Hey, I know my gaming table is crap. But it’s my MVP! So I’ll share my little corner of nerdery right now, and I’ll find encouragement from others who are sharing theirs.

6. Cultivate patience above all else.

Nerds, we can figure out news ways to play, connect, draw, build, design, and care for one another. But it won’t come easy and it won’t come in a straight line. That’s a reminder that we need to practice patience, both with ourselves, among those we care for, and also as we experiment in the days and months ahead. 

What ever project you’ve been putting off is figureoutable. Start small, create your MVP, free up time for creativity, and do new things.

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